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AG Nessel Joins Coalition in Supporting Safety and Inclusion for LGBTQ+ Youth in Schools
November 01, 2023
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief supporting a Maryland local board of education’s efforts to create a safe and supportive environment for LGTBQ+ children and all students. The Montgomery County Board of Education (MCBE) is facing a challenge to its policy that incorporates LGBTQ-inclusive books into its Language Arts curriculum without allowing students to opt out. In the friend-of-the-court brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the case of Mahmoud v. McKnight, the attorneys general reiterate the importance of providing safe and inclusive school environments for all children, and explain that policies such as MCBE’s do not raise constitutional or other concerns.
“A Language Arts curriculum that respects a diversity of viewpoints and experiences advances the State’s interest in fostering a safe, supportive, and inclusive school environment.” Nessel said. “Not including LGBTQ+ stories serves to maintain a marginalization of students and perpetuates often-experienced isolation from their peers. I stand with my colleagues in supporting the Montgomery County Board of Education’s efforts to build a tolerant, inclusive school district and student body, without burdening religious freedom or violating the law.”
Out of a concern that LGBTQ+ people were not adequately represented in the books children encounter in school, MCBE has chosen to incorporate a variety of LGBTQ-inclusive books into its elementary school Language Arts curriculum. MCBE does not permit students to opt out of classes where these books are read. A group of parents sued MCBE, arguing that, in declining to allow opt-outs, MCBE had violated their right to the free exercise of their religion. The district court denied a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs, concluding that they were unlikely to prevail on their claims, and the plaintiffs appealed to the Fourth Circuit.
The amicus brief, co-led by the Attorneys General of Maryland and Massachusetts, was joined by the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.